FG is Moving Economy on Path of Prosperity-Onu

Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology, has said the Buhari administration was putting measures in place towards moving the economy to prosperity.

Speaking to journalists in New York, Onu said “Our economy, since independence, has relied on commodities; our economy has been resource-based and the problem with that is that we have relied so much on commodities.

“Yet as a nation, we can’t determine the price of these commodities. So what it means is if there is a sharp drop with the price of commodity, then your economy will suffer adversely.
“And this is what has been creating problems for us in the country.

“Whenever there is price drop in the price of commodities, then immediately, we feel the adverse effect, we enter into a recession; and we believe that this should not have happened.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is determined that the nation must move away from having an economy that is resource-based to having an economy that is knowledge-based and innovation driven

“And this is where Science and Technology can play and is playing very important role.”

According to him, the Federal Government has already prepared the ground for the economy to now take off.

“We have done a number of things to prepare the grounds for Nigeria to take-off from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based economy.

“The Science, Technology and Innovation Policy of the Federal Government came into existence in 1986.

“But for 30 years, the lead organ – the National Research and Innovation Council, which the President is Chairman, that lead organ never met for once in 30 years.

“It took the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari January of last year for this Council to meet for the first time in 30 years.

“And last year we met three times and this year we already met once. But it is not the Council meeting that is really our goal.

“But just to tell you that if you have a body and there is no head can the body move, it can’t move; you need the head to control even body movement and other things.

“Today, we are working to institutionalize this council and we are also working to make sure that there is a National Research and Innovation Fund.”

Buhari Mourns Chanchangi

President Muhammadu Buhari has on Wednesday commiserated with the family of he late Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi, who died along Kaduna-Abuja road while on the way to a hospital in Abuja on Wednesday following a protracted illness.

The 82-year-old Taraba-born, Kaduna-based billionaire and Chairman of Chanchangi Airlines, left behind two wives and 33 children, including Rufai Chanchangi, a member of the House of Representatives.

The President in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, also commiserated with the government and people of his home state, Taraba, and that of Kaduna, where he lived, on the demise of the notable entrepreneur.

He noted that the deceased devoted his wealth to the advancement of the welfare of others, “instead of pursuing conspicuous consumption in a society overwhelmed by poverty.”

The President acknowledged Chanchangi’s “selfless commitment to humanitarian causes, demonstrated in his offering succour to those in need, sponsoring community enlightenment programmes and uplifting people’s spiritual well-being.”

Buhari’s Success Claim, Insult to Intelligence of Nigerians-PDP

The Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s claims in his Easter message, to having met the expectations of Nigerians as an insult on their intelligence.

Its spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, yesterday said the comments from Mr. President are to say the least untrue and unfair to Nigerians, who have been at the receiving end of his government’s mismanagement in the last two years.

On the war against Boko Haram, Adeyeye reiterated that the armaments procured by former President Goodluck Jonathan are what are still being used to prosecute the war.

Adeyeye added that current administration has also abused the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) created by Jonathan, which covered all sectors in the rehabilitation efforts for the zone with comprehensive project cost and partnership.
“PINE under the APC’s watch has been a monumental disaster with allegations of contract scams while the internally displaced persons (IDPs) endure daily hardship and starvation. Tragically, we are yet to see the outcome of the investigation on the Nigeria’s fighter jet bombing of the IDP Camp in Borno State killing more than 200 persons.

On the war against corruption, the party’s spokesman, said like other policies and programmes of the APC administration, it has failed as well. He said: “The entire anti-corruption war of the APC since inception is just in the media with only one conviction. Many of the cases in the courts have been set aside and suspects discharged and acquitted while others are in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Department of State Services (DSS) detention centres without trial, in violation of their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Makarfi-led PDP insisted that the recession we are experiencing today is as a result of the failure of the APC-led administration to properly manage our economy.

“The Buhari government is indeed clueless and had no economic plan until March 2017 when it launched the so called ‘recovery plan.’

The economy is at a standstill. Major infrastructural developments that began with the previous administrations of the PDP have been abandoned. Power generation has dwindled from over 5,000mw in 2015 to the present all time low of less than 2,000mw. The only project of note this government has ever commissioned is the Abuja- Kaduna railroad, which was 99 percent completed by the PDP administration.

Guardian

Memo to Presidency: Milestones to Remember, By Sonola Olumese

What should we make of the avalanche of stunning discoveries of illicit funds in Lagos recently?

Following whistleblower tips, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC):

On Wednesday announced finding about N13bn in various currencies in an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos.
On Tuesday located N4bn in two GTB accounts suspected to belong to a politician.
On Monday found a huge pile, in Balogun Market, of about N250m in various currencies.
The previous week found N448.85m in a Bureau de Change.

The obvious lesson is that while Nigerians continue to suffer needlessly and the government seeks foreign loans, much more can be done to recover funds and assets former and current Nigerian officials are trying to hide.

But neither whistleblower tips, nor the gleeful broadcasting being made of these finds, constitute a successful onslaught on corruption. We need a clear, systematic, history-conscious plan.

Such a plan would guide anti-corruption productivity now and in the future. It will provide a framework for testing how faithful to higher principles this government itself is, and a platform on which future officials and administrations will be measured.

In that direction, here are 10 ideas I recommend to the Muhammadu Buhari administration:

One: Sponsor an amendment of the constitution to eliminate the immunity provisions. The circumstances under which they were made have changed, and immunity has since 1999 become only impunity.

If a leader does not doubt himself and his intentions, he is not afraid. That should be the guiding principle. Let us aim at a higher standard where the president and the governors are guided by the imperative of doing right, not the knowledge that they have eight years to cover their evil. This current system serves the dubious, not the people, and it is inherently unjust and dangerous.

By contrast, in the United States after which we modeled our constitution, Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama was thrown out of office last week for misdemeanour campaign violations that were found while he was being investigated for an extra-marital affair with an aide.

That investigation roared on while he was governor, but Alabama did not collapse. In Nigeria, a critical part of our farce is that the president and the governors feel no fear, no pain, no law, and no one.

If the immunity provisions are not deleted from the Nigerian constitution, we deceive even our children, and history will scoff at us.

Think about it: Before he was rigged back into the same job in 2014, then former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose was on the road to jail following certain murders committed by a killer squad he allegedly established during his governorship between 2003 and 2006. What the immunity clause has achieved is make all Nigerians witnesses of crime, and participants in grave injustice.

Two: Restructure and enlarge the EFCC. The scale of the challenge before this anti-graft agency, particularly in the light of unfolding dimensions of the malfeasance, cannot be handled by mortal men with a normal 24-hour day.

To make for fairness and effectiveness, the agency should be restructured into three broad units, perhaps as follows: federal and international; state and local government; and Advance Fee Fraud, each under the authority of deputy chairmen. That will strengthen the EFCC as an institution, and promote its ability to cover every blade of grass more effectively.

Three: As part of the restructuring of the EFCC, the funding of the agency needs to be changed so it can establish a full-fledged training institution and operate a competitive salary structure and attract the best professionals.

This will transform it into a place of pride to work, and not one where agents and staff are potentially the targets of blackmail and corruption. Remember, the EFCC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are currently cooperating to prosecute staff of the electoral body who were involved in a N4.3 billion scheme to manipulate the 2015 general election.

Four: implement the Uwais Report.

In December 2008, the Justice Mohammed Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) submitted to then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a widely-celebrated report capable of changing Nigeria’s story of flawed and rigged elections.

Its recommendations included the unbundling of INEC, whereby some of its functions would be reallocated to other bodies; the introduction of independent candidates; and the trial and sentencing of electoral fraudsters even during elections.

Asserting the need to rectify the lack of appropriate independence by INEC and the State Independent Electoral Commissions as a “key deficiency” of Nigeria’s electoral process, the committee made powerful recommendations to address their composition, administrative autonomy and funding; and of the National Assembly, the executive, the judiciary, the political parties, security agencies, civil society organisations, the media and the public.

Nobody can address corruption in Nigeria without addressing the subject of elections in a fundamental and realistic way, and the Uwais Report did that. It is time to dust it up and put it to work.

Five: Campaign Finance Reform.

Nigeria’s elections, and therefore Nigeria, continue to be at the mercy of politicians who have the means and the opportunity to purchase them.

To change that, this government should decide on appropriate public financing of electoral races for the legislatures, governorships and the presidency, with strict caps on spending, and with dismissals from a race or from office as the price for violations. That will empower more qualified candidates, and discourage the compromised.

Six: Implement NNPC reports.

Only last week, several officials of the NNPC were fired. This has become routine at the corporation. Sweeping changes of the corporation’s leadership happens frequently, and certainly each time there is a new administration. Some of those fired last week were appointed only in March of 2016.

The reason is obvious: NNPC is a mountain of money. Ascending to the top of that mountain is no less than winning the lottery because there are so many ways a ruthless official can convert that position into sudden wealth. Buhari knows it: he was there; Olusegun Obasanjo knows it: he was his own petroleum minister for eight years, during which one of his appointees spent half a billion Naira in hotel expenses alone.

Everyone also knows what is wrong with the NNPC: Various reports in the past 16 years have pinpointed the issues, but they have not been implemented. The EFCC-INEC prosecution I referred to earlier in this story relates to monies, by the billions, that allegedly came from the NNPC.

It is obvious: you cannot reform Nigeria, or curb corruption, if the NNPC continues to be run as a rogue organisation. Implement those reports, strip the guilty of their unearned wealth, and send them to jail.

Seven: Reform the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Sadly, the CBN continues to be led by one of the most corrupt and inept leaderships in Nigeria’s history. It is unclear how this is supposed to inspire faith in the prospects of the Nigerian economy.

Eight: In response to last Wednesday’s discovery of N13bn in Lagos, a court swiftly ordered its forfeiture to the Federal Government. It is unsurprising the government was thrilled by the court’s decision. But in February last year, the court also ordered the government to publish an account of Nigeria’s recovered loot, which it has shamefully failed to do, a fact which has damaged its image. The government must publish that account.

Nine: No government is successful if its leader considers personal example to be a contradiction in terms. President Buhari must find the courage to lead by example, not by talk.

Ten: I fully support the need to punish the guilty. But Nigerians are not all, or always, bad. There is no better time than right now to start honouring the deserving.

A Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari Regarding The Looters At National Assembly By Charly Boy

Dear Sir: A belated welcome back home. I trust you’re taking it easy, because of old age no dey lie. We even hear say you dey go back to continue your treatment; it is well sha.

uring the 2015 election, a lot of foreign observers analyzed and sympathized with Nigerians because the choice we had was between the devil and the deep blue sea. Even I had lost hope in the leadership of my beloved country, and I remember telling Nigerians that what was needed to get us out of the mess we find ourselves, is a benevolent dictator: One whose sole aim would be to round up all looters and destroyers of this great country and deliver us from The vile, evil and wicked politicians/cabals that have enforced this kinda poverty, hunger, hopelessness on my people, with impunity.

Funny, many thought I was talking about you. But a lot had gone wrong in our country for too long, and I am aware that it would take a long time to purge our country of habits that has hindered our collective growth as a people.

Sir, your re-entry into the leadership of this country was greeted with mixed feelings.

While some Nigerians felt you are the man for the job, others felt you belonged to the status quo and nothing will change. I know that Nigerians will need to bite the Bullet before the healing process can start.

Although your administration has made a lot of goofs in some areas, on the corruption fight, nonetheless, I clap for you small because now we can see how overwhelming corruption has become. So, I and my fellow frustrated Nigerians are with you on that. I am aware that the corruption fight cannot be fought only by you or a few well-meaning people in your kitchen cabinet; some of whom we the people don’t even trust. This is also the people’s fight if we all must see a better Nigeria. Like you said; “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us.” Corruption has for long empowered the criminal minority to terrorize the silent majority because many Nigerians see corruption as a victimless crime. But that is exactly what breeds all sorts of anomalies bedeviling the nation today. Our mumu don do.

Frustrated Nigerians know that this fight must start from the National Assembly. I am aware that you have had a running battle with some of the blackmailers, scammers, 419ers, certificate forgers and the riffraffs in the National Assembly.

I even hear say you don block some of the loopholes wey dem dey take chop money and how dem no dey get the kin awoof money dem dey chop before. Baba you bad o!!!!!!

However, how can this fight be intensified because my fellow frustrated Nigerians are aware of all the intrigues going on at the National Assembly, and frankly, we have had enough of this rubbish and jagbagantis. Abi Na till we die or till we craze?

Mr. President, Sir, it’s time to show your bone face.

After all, Obasanjo dealt with many of them in the house: senator Evan/Evans Enwerem, senator Dr Chuba Okadigbo, senator Adolphus Wabara, Salisu Buhari on the House of Reps as their Speaker in 1999. Even our gentleman former President, Goodluck dealt with House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.

Oga mi, you must decisively clamp down on these rogues before they finally ruin our lives. You can’t go wrong since many of my fellow frustrated Nigerians are down for the biggest showdown. Isn’t this the main reason why many voted for you? To liberate Nigeria from crooks, criminals, and gangsters occupying positions of power!

We can’t continue like this anymore.

Our mumu don reach final bus stop. As a matter of urgency we must cut down on the excesses of our legislooters. We can’t indefinitely continue to fund such a padded good-for-nothing expensive senate when Nigerians are poor, hungry, angry and hopeless. Because the battle for the heart and soul of Nigeria has begun.

We can’t endlessly waste Nigeria’s revenue on a bunch of certificate forgers, armed robbers and riffraffs. Na Wetin?

It’s time to formulate our kind of democracy, because the Oyibo way no go work with us especially with these criminals. Let the people decide if we should scrap the Senate or drastically tone it down to a more manageable level.

Baba, boys wan Para o!!!!!!!!

Best regards

AreaFada Charly Boy.

President of Frustrated Nigerians.

‘I Belong To Everybody And Nobody:’ Our President Said It, We Didn’t Get It By Abimbola Lagunju

When President Muhammadu Buhari famously said on May 29, 2015 that he belonged to everybody and to nobody, the public went into a frenzy of interpretations of his philosophical words. Clearly, what he said was a code. It meant something that we did not understand and which he did not bother to explain. How could he, our Sai Baba, who belonged to us during the campaign and to whom we belonged during the voting process, now come out and say publicly that he belonged to nobody after winning the elections? Something was quite wrong from the onset. We didn’t get it. Did these coded words apply to his family, his political associates, to the known sponsors of his victory, to the alliance of political parties that came together to ensure his victory or to the public? It was anybody’s guess. Whether he has acted on or is acting on those words is also anyone’s guess. As with many other important issues haunting our lives, some Nigerians made a sick joke of the President’s declaration and everyone moved on.

Mr. Buhari also said he was going to allow all the other arms of government do their jobs while he would focus on his. He was neither going to interfere nor influence decision-making either at the Senate or the House of Representatives. He acted on these words. He let the election process of the Senate leadership pervert itself to produce the current leadership to the indignation of Nigerians. Nigerians expected some reaction, some political maneuver to undo this aberration, but this never came. Mr. Buhari let it ride. And what we have been seeing on the television are joint prayer sessions with the leadership of the Senate, smiles, hand-holding, hilarious laughter and visiting between the President and the Senate leadership here in Nigeria and in London. Further, the President appears to be indifferent to the press exposures of the reprehensible actions of some members of his kitchen cabinet with links to the Senate leadership. It appears that some sinister pre-prepared script is being acted out by the combo of the Senate and the Executive. It is difficult to think that what we are seeing are spontaneous dramas. What we have been seeing in the past two years is antithetical to the persona of whom we thought we voted for.

Our President said, “I belong to everybody and to nobody!” This is not original. It belongs in Jean Jacques Rousseau’s treatise on the Social Contract. Mr. Buhari must have read it severally after he lost the previous elections. And he acted out some of the clauses of the Social Contract in order for him to win the 2015 elections. Hear Rousseau: “…as men cannot engender new forces, but only unite and direct existing ones, they have no other means of preserving themselves than the formation, by aggregation, of a sum of forces great enough to overcome the resistance. These they have to bring into play by means of a single motive power, and cause to act in concert. This sum of forces can arise only where several persons come together…….. each man, in giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody; and as there is no associate over whom he does not acquire the same right as he yields others over himself, he gains an equivalent for everything he loses, and an increase of force for the preservation of what he has.” Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong in forming alliances to overcome an obstacle or to reach an objective. What can be very wrong is if the objective is personal at the expense of a trusting nation rather than for common good or if the alliance is with people of questionable character.

Our President did not need to tell us that he belonged to everybody and to nobody. It was not necessary. We already have a binding social contract with him in our constitution. So he could not possibly be referring to the Nigerian public that voted him in. Who then was he talking to? To whom was he quoting Jean Jacques Rousseau in his public discourse? Mr. President needs to explain this to Nigerians.

That Mr. Buhari formed an alliance with other political parties to oust Goodluck Jonathan and his PDP is a fact in public domain. But we do not know what other alliances the President engaged in. That Mr. Buhari seems to have parted ways with other political parties has been widely reported. What about these other hidden alliances? Recent belligerence of the Senate leadership (despite the exposures of their moral baggage) towards the person of Mr. Buhari and his seeming helplessness tell a big story. It is terrifying that this belligerence is not based on any principles but on trivia that border on demand for respect from the President. Rousseau says “there is no associate over whom he does not acquire the same right as he yields others over himself….” In other words, the Senate leadership demands respect as per the conditions of an agreement between equals. What is the nature of this contract that seems to render our president a ghost of the supposed man of steel we voted for? This has nothing to do with our Constitution or with separation of powers; our Constitution does not allow for trivialities.

The Social Contract between the President and the people of Nigeria far outweighs any other contract that the President might have engaged in, in the course of seeking the presidency. The people take precedence over alliances. Mr. Buhari has to boldly move out of unholy alliances that tie his hands while the people are still solidly behind him. What History will say of you as the President is much more than winning a second term.

The president should come out and tell us that “He belongs to everyone – to us, the people” and leave the VIP nobodies to lick their wounds.

I hope President Muhammadu Buhari reads this.

 

Abimbola Lagunju is an author. You can reach him at [email protected] and read his articles at Afro Point of View.

The Monster Buhari Failed To Destroy By Charles Ofoji

It has now turned out that the monster President Muhammdau Buhari failed to destroy is becoming his nemesis.

For a president, who coasted to power on the promise of change, I had watched the inexperience at democratic governance or naivety exhibited by Mr. Buhari when he thought he was boasting, saying that he was not interested in who emerged as leaders of the legislature.

“There is due process for the selection of leaders of the National Assembly and I will not interfere in that process … I am prepared to work with any leaders that the House or Senate selects….It doesn’t matter who the person is or where he or she is from,” Buhari had said in a statement signed by Malam Garba Shehu, then Director Media & Publicity APC Presidential Campaign.

Buhari’s stance then had dethroned logic. How could a president say he is careless about who controlled an arm of government that has the power to rubbish his presidency or even cut his reign to pieces with the sword of impeachment?

Then I wrote in my blog: “Sir, If you wanted to show statesmanship when you refused to influence who emerged leaders of the National Assembly, you only ended up displaying naivety. It is common practice, even in civilized democracies, for a president or prime minister to influence directly or indirectly who emerges as speaker of parliament.

“You promised change and should know that you are no longer a dictator. It therefore means that you need good laws to deliver on your promise. Now how can you effect change with a man like Bukola Saraki as Senate President? How could a man who is one of the most people who profited from Nigeria the way it is, allow you to change the status-quo?

“Honestly speaking, from the moment you looked away and allowed Saraki to become senate president, I lost hope in your promise of change. Guilty or not, the fact remains that he has lost moral legitimacy. There is too much finger-pointing, which makes his moral baggage over-weight. If Saraki had any iota of honor, he would have long resigned his office. Rather he prefers to put the office of the senate president through ridicule. So Mr. President, as a leader of your party, if you are still serious about change, you must do all to get rid of this man as the leader of the Nigerian legislature.”

Buhari’s political naivety by allowing Saraki to emerge and remain as senate president is now his greatest undoing.

As things stand, the two men from the same ruling party, APC, are chasing different goals. Nothing shows that the ruling party has a commanding majority of the two houses of parliament. It has become increasingly embarrassing for the president in his failure to get simple bills passed or his appointees easily endorsed by the legislature controlled by his party.

The case of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stands out. Twice Buhari sent his name to senate for approval as substantive chairman and twice the Saraki-led Senate rejected him – on the flimsy excuse of a negative security report. Notwithstanding the fact that Magu has done fairly well as EFCC chairman. Though there is the accusation in some quarters that he is an apostle of selective justice.

In any case, critics of the members of the National Assembly say they are hell scared of Magu, who in my assessment, has prosecuted an uncompromising war against corruption.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo once famously lamented, “The National Assembly is largely an assemblage of looters and thieves.”

Mr. Obasanjo, speaking at the public presentation of the autobiography of Justice Mustapha Akanbi in Abuja in 2014 said: “Apart from shrouding the remunerations of the National Assembly in opaqueness and without transparency, they indulge in extorting money from departments, contractors and ministries in two ways.

“They do so during visits to their projects and programs and in the process of budget approval when they build up budgets for ministries and departments, who agree to give it back to them in contracts that they do not execute. They do similar things during their inquiries.”

He added: “Corruption in the National Assembly also includes what they call constituency projects which they give to their agents to execute but invariably, full payment is made with little or no job done.

“In all this, if the executive is not absolutely above board, the offending members of the National Assembly resort to subtle or open threat, intimidation and blackmail. When the executive pay the huge money, normally in millions of dollars, all is quiet in form of whitewashed reports that fail to deal effectively with the issues investigated.”

The truth is bitter. Whether the members of the National Assembly like it or not, majority of Nigerians, including this writer, share Obasanjo’s view.

So like the mockers of the legislators say on social media, how can rats allow a cat (Magu) to become the anti-corruption czar?

It is hard to speculate which game Saraki is up to now that he sees President Buhari weakened by failing health. Whatever his calculations, Saraki’s Senate, with the suspension of the former Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, can no longer be said to be a democratic house of parliament. The great son of Alabama, Hugo LaFayette Black put it succinctly when he said: “Freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they have, or the views they express, or the words they speak or write.“

Ndume’s only sin was that, as a representative of a senatorial zone, he had called for the investigation of the allegations against the Senate President bothering on non payment of import duties on an SUV and certificate forgery leveled against Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi-West.

Ndume could have made the demand for two good reasons. First, being a matter of public interest, Nigerians have the right to get to the bottom of the matter. And secondly, maybe, he wanted the two senators to be cleared of the accusation so as to preserve the integrity of the Senate – if there is still any left.

The purported suspension of Ndume is the height of impunity by the Saraki-led Senate. It is an infringement of the right of free speech of Mr. Ndume as a senator and that of the constituents he represents in the Senate. I will encourage him to seek legal redress.

The Saraki-led Senate has been insulting Nigerians with its series of illegalities and pettiness. So much that the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) described the senators as being childish and irresponsible. In this era of summoning anyone and everyone, even for merely coughing, the Senators have also summoned the learned jurist.

The Nigerian Senate under Saraki has lately become a source of embarrassment to Nigerians. Sagay was so miffed with the behavior of the lawmakers that he wondered how people of such character could occupy the highest legislative office in the country? “Nigeria is finished,” he concluded.

I heap the blame on Buhari. He failed to take control, as the leader of the ruling party, from the beginning. And, up till now, he is still not in control. Going back to Magu for example, if Buhari had been in control, the so-called DSS negative security report on Magu would have first being seen by him before it gets to the legislature. Unless, he is playing a game of chase with Magu.

Saraki was the monster Buhari failed to destroy politically when it was rearing its ugly head and when it was politically expedient. Now the monster has gone full circle and destroying everything in sight – its maker not spared, talk less of those who tolerated it.

Also not spared is whatever is left of Buhari’s change agenda. It has also become a big threat to our democracy.

Buhari Impressed With Tinubu, Says his ‘a Great Leader’

President Muhammadu Buhari has poured encomium on former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, describing him as a great leader.

President Buhari said Tinubu’s foray into politics 25 years ago whose has “ushered in a better understanding of building consensus to achieve historical feats, like unseating an incumbent government.”

The Nigerian leader made the remarks in a congratulatory message to Tinubu as he clocks 65 years on Wednesday. A colloquium on small scale businesses in honour of the politician will take place in Lagos today.

Tinubu and Buhari  belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC), now Nigeria’s ruling party.

In a statement by Femi Adesina, the media adviser, President Buhari joined all members of the APC, political and business associates of the Asiwaju of Lagos, his friends and family, in celebrating another milestone in the life of Tinubu.

“As he turns 65 years, the President believes the Asiwaju raised the bar for many political leaders across the country as a two-term governor of Lagos State, and also bequeathed a style of leadership that completely altered the landscape of the commercial capital. ”

Buhari recalled his pleasant and intellectually enriching encounters with the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom over the years and said the nation has benefitted a lot from the personal sacrifices, political experience and intellectual foresight of the APC chieftain, and still stands to gain more.

Budget Padding: Prosecute Indicted Officials, SERAP tells Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the arrest and prosecution of principal officers of the National Assembly who were indicted in the 2016 budget padding case.

The group’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale,in a recent statement said “Corruption in the budget process takes away and erodes much needed resources for public and developmental purposes. SERAP is seriously concerned about the level of secrecy surrounding the budget process in the National Assembly, which has invariably created a breeding place for alleged corruption.

“Secrecy in the National Assembly has clearly gone beyond the level permitted by law, and apparently served as the incubator for corruption, while depriving the Nigerian people of a much-needed opportunity to cleanse the National Assembly of persistent allegations of corruption.

“SERAP has received very credible information from multiple sources that the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have now completed investigations into the allegations of padding of the 2016 budget, completed their reports, and indicted some principal officers of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Also, the accounts of some of the principal officers containing allegedly illicit funds have been frozen, and that the case files for the prosecution of those indicted are ready.”

“SERAP has also received credible information from whistle-blowers about ongoing attempt by some principal officers of the National Assembly to allegedly steal N40 billion of the N100 billion allocated by your government as ‘zonal intervention’ (also known as constituency projects) in the 2017 budget.

“SERAP is also aware of the alleged risk of corruption involving the $2.5 budget oil bench mark increment which comes up to about N131 billion. The N131 billion will be appropriated to either reduce deficit or increase expenditure or both but unless the spending of the funds is closely monitored and scrutinised, the funds may be diverted, mismanaged or stolen.

“SERAP is also concerned that deception in the budget process will continue unless Nigerians are granted access to inspect the budget process and other activities by the National Assembly. SERAP strongly believes that Nigerians have the right to know what their lawmakers are doing so that they are able to appraise their work and hold them to account.”

Buhari to Visit Sambisa Next Week

President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to declare open this year’s Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship in Sambisa forest in Borno.

Maj.-Gen. David Ahmad, the Chief of Training and Operations, Nigerian Army headquarters, disclosed this at a news conference on the championship in Maiduguri on Friday.

Ahmadu said the event was slated for March 27 to 31 at the former stronghold of the Boko Haram insurgents.

He said that the championship was part of the training activities of the Nigerian Army aimed at sharpening marksmanship of its personal.

“The Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship otherwise known as NASAC is part of the training activities scheduled for 2017.

“It is a championship among the formations of the Nigerian Army, the objective of the event is to sharpen the marksmanship skills of the army personnel,’’ Ahmadu said.

He said: “All formations of the Nigerian Army will be competing with the best carting away the prestigious Chief of Army Staff trophy.’’

Ahmadu said that the championship was aimed at consolidating on the total defeat and routing out of Boko Haram terrorists from their operational headquarters in camp zero in Sambisa forest.

“Furthermore, the championship will also mark the commencement of the ongoing plan to move speedily and make the Sambisa forest general area safe for habitation.

“It is also to make the place an area for the Nigerian Army training activities,’’ he said.

Ahmadu said: “To this end provisions had already been made for the reopening of more roads, construction of culverts and bridges by army engineers to facilitate easy movement to the general area.

“There is no gain saying that the championship is set to another epoch making event that will further emphasise the Nigerian Army efforts and resolve in meeting its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation,’’ he said.

NAN

Buhari Gives N-Power Graduates Extra N4,500

President Muhamamdu Buhari has approved an additional N4500/monthly to all the 200,000 N-Power beneficiaries to purchase a computer tablet or i-Pad which would be loaded with different applications that would further enhance their skills.

The payment for the device would be stretched for 20 months, with the subsidy by government covering the repayment in some months.

Bank of Industry, BoI is financing the acquisition of the tablets.

According the Mr. Laolu Akande, the SSA media in the Vice President’s office, each N-Power graduate, after being verified would select his choice of device amongst nine different BOI pre-approved vendors.

Akande made known this new dimension of the N-Power programme while giving an update today.

Repayment ranges between N3,000 to N6,700 monthly.

“Therefore in some cases the N4500 device grant would cover the full monthly deduction cost while in other cases the graduate authorises BOI to deduct the additional differential cost from their monthly stipends depending on the device chosen”, said Akande..

The Vice President’s spokesman also noted that 6 of the 9 BOI pre-approved vendors are indigenous local brands in pursuit of the Buhari administration’s push for Local Content.

He said almost 100,000 graduate N-Power beneficiaries have completed their orders for the devices, adding that the Bank of Industry is in charge of effecting the orders made.

“The plan is to conduct the order of the devices in two batches of 100,000 each, one after the other”, Akande added.

According to Akande, at the last count 149, 669 Nigerian graduates of the 200,000 engaged by the Federal Government under the N-Power Volunteer Corps are now collecting their monthly stipends of N30,000 monthly having been physically verified and deployed across the 36 states and FCT.

He said the beneficiaries on government pay roll have been physically verified and deployed, while their bank accounts have also been matched with the Bank Verification Number.

The SSA said that, in December, about 112,475 of the N-Power graduate beneficiaries received the N30,000 monthly stipends, and the number came close to 150,000, both in January and February meaning about that number are now receiving their up-to-date stipends from the N-Power Volunteer Corps.

Akande also noted that now beneficiaries across the 36 States of the Federation, and the FCT have been verified, totaling the 150,000 figure. He said the balance 50,000 of the 200,000 beneficiaries engaged by the FG are those who so far could not be paid for various reasons.

This includes those who were disqualified during verification on the basis of age-over 35, and inadequate academic qualification. The N-Power is for university, polytechnics and College of Education graduates only. There were also some of the selected 200,000 who were ‘no shows’ meaning they simply did not report for verification at all.

Others who could not be paid were those whose personal information details were faulty, including those whose marital status had changed. There are also those who used different names and differing personal information. And lastly there are also those whose banking information simply do not match with their BVN banking records.

In the case of those whose marital status have changed, Akande explained that their information is now being updated through the various States and FCT Focal Persons and then they would be represented for payment. He also disclosed that those who have sought redeployment to other states are among the 50,000 and in such cases, they will be considered alongside those to be replaced from the N-Power waiting list where necessary.

The process for the replacement of those who did not show up and those disqualified would also resume shortly to bring the number back to 200,000 for the first batch of the 500,000 promised by the Buhari administration.